Google has announced that by May 2021, page speed will be a determining factor for SEO rankings. Here is a summary of how this will affect you and your business and a summary of 3 top things to consider:
According to Google’s official announcement, the ‘Speed Update,’ as they are calling it, “will only affect pages that deliver the slowest experience to users and will only affect a small percentage of queries. It applies the same standard to all pages, regardless of the technology used to build the page. The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a slow page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content.”
With that in mind, you shouldn’t see your website as an exception to the rule, so it’s best practice to make sure your landing page is as optimised as possible.
Avoid or remove 3rd party scripts
In this case, you can either get rid of them or optimize the process.
Then, you have a few options:
Delay the Loading of Third-Party Scripts
This is done one of two ways: by using HTML’s ‘async’ attribute to force the browser to continue parsing the rest of the website until the script gets downloaded (and once the script finishes downloading, it pauses parsing the HTML document to run the script).
Or,by using the ‘defer’ attribute, which works in the same way except the browser doesn’t run the script until it has parsed the entire HTML document.
If a script is considered critical to your website’s functioning, self-hosting will provide you with more control over how it’s loaded. You’ll be able to reduce DNS lookup and round-trip times, improve HTTP caching headers and take advantage of HTTP/2 server push.
A word of caution: scripts can go out of date and will not update automatically when there’s an API change or a security fix.
“Manually updating scripts can add a lot of overhead to your development process and you might miss out on important updates. If you are not using CDN hosting for serving all the resources, you are also missing out on edge-caching, and you have to optimize your server’s compression,” says Milica Mihajlija.
Remove the Third-Party Script Altogether
Then again, if the script adds no apparent value, there is no need to keep it. If you are unsure, perform A/B testing to check if removing a script impacts your website’s performance vs usability.
This will help establish a connection with the external domain hosting the third-party script at the start of page load itself. In short, it’ll tell browsers to fetch and download resources for your pages ahead of time for better actual and perceived website performance.
Lazy-load Third-Party JS
Embedded third-party elements such as ads and videos add a lot of stress on your website, but they are an essential income source for many sites.
The solution lies in lazy-loading them.
Suppose you’re serving ads in the footer of your website – you can lazy-load them so that they’re only loaded when the user scrolls down the page (just by doing this, Mediavine had a 200% speed increase!)
First impressions count, and the look of a website is no different. However, content (specifically images, videos, and other media files), can delay loading times.
Did you know that the average page size is more than 2 MB, and images comprise more than 60 percent of that?
By compressing and optimizing your images, you reduce their “weight” without losing their quality. This way, Google won’t penalize your SEO ranking, and visitors can still view great images on your site.
Myth: Google will not penalize sites with auto-playing videos.
Truth: Google will not penalize sites with auto-playing videos, but auto-playing videos are large, they are a disruption to the user, and might not always work (some mobile devices still won’t render an auto-play video). So, by proxy, Google will penalize the site.
Unless they form an integral part of your marketing plan, getting rid of them can increase organic traffic, increase sign-ups, and improve your bounce rate.
If you want to maintain a raster image’s quality, the bigger it is, the larger the file size. This is because pixels-based graphics such as JPG and PNG don’t scale very well.
Using graphics in the Scalable Vector Graphics format can shave off seconds of loading time because they maintain the same quality no matter their size on the screen.
A CDN speeds up your loading time by distributing content closer to website visitors using a nearby CDN server. It can also handle more traffic and withstand hardware failure better than many origin servers.
With that said, keep in mind that CDNs are “next-level” optimizations – ergo, third-party services and not a self-contained fix.
Will your website be faster with a CDN? Absolutely. Do you need it? Not necessarily – you can still provide a decently fast website experience without a CDN, but it all depends on your goals, priorities, and budget.
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